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Nvidia Shield TV (2017) Review: In Depth

5

The Good

  • Versatile streamer
  • Unbeatable gaming features
  • Improved controllers
  • Google Assistant

The Bad

  • You'll have to wait for the Spot

Nvidia Shield TV Review (2017 model): This updated version of the original Shield TV is one of the very best home entertainment systems you can buy right now, with a great future ahead of it thanks to Nvidia's dedicated smart home support. Here's our in-depth Nvidia Shield TV 2017 review.

The original Nvidia Shield TV came out at the tail end of 2015, but even now in 2017 this smart and impressively versatile Android TV streaming box enjoys pride of place in our home entertainment setup. That's because it doesn't just offer 4K streaming with the likes of Netflix, but also a great set of features for gamers. Not only can you enjoy exclusive Android games and stream titles from your home PC, but you can even get stuck into Nvidia's GeForce Now service, for playing the latest games on remote servers.

In other words, the Shield TV is a serious rival to the likes of the Xbox One S and Playstation 4 when it comes to both games and general home entertainment - with the added bonus that it's now been fully updated for 2017. Even better, this all-new rejiggered model of the Shield TV only costs £189 here in the UK, making it more affordable than all of the current games consoles.

Here's our full review of the new Shield TV 2017. And check out our Nvidia Shield TV 2017 complete guide for the full specs and other essential info.

Read next: Roku Premiere+ vs Amazon Fire TV 4K vs Google Chromecast Ultra, which 4K streamer wins?

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Design, ports and accessories

One of the biggest updates when you compare the Nvidia Shield TV 2017 with the original streaming box is the size of the thing. While the first Shield TV was rather bulky, which meant it took up lots of space next to your telly, the new 2017 model is roughly half the size.

We'd even go so far as to call the new Shield TV 'cute', although it still looks like some kind of menacing alien spacecraft with all of its sharp edges and corners. It'll slip easily into a bag or even a pocket now however, which means you can easily transport it if you want to take it on a trip.

The Shield TV 2017 comes bundled with Nvidia's game controller and remote control, which is a generous move. After all, the first streaming box only came with the game controller. However, you'll still need to fork out another £20 if you want the Shield TV stand, to prop it upright.

Check out our unboxing video below to see the full contents of the box.

 
As for ports, that reduction in size sadly means you get fewer connections than before. You still have two USB ports for hooking up external storage, plus an Ethernet and HDMI port, but that's your whack. That means micro USB support has been slashed, as a cost-saving measure. No biggie, but worth pointing out.
 
 

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Setup, interface and apps

Plug the new Shield TV into your telly and the mains and fire it up, and you'll be met with a pleasingly streamlined setup process.

Those controllers are recognised by the box without any faff and you're straight into signing into your WiFi network and Google account to get started with Android TV. You can also set up an Nvidia account, for using the likes of GeForce Now and Game Stream.

Nvidia's Shield TV 2017 features a simplified and simply wonderful user interface, which is a definite step up from the Shield menus of old.

You still get the random row of suggested distractions at the very top, which still seems to recommend a variety of weird YouTube randomness. Selected highlights include 'sledding with my dog' and 'roof falling during floorball game' (no, we don't know what floorball is either).

Beneath that you get a row of shortcuts to your apps, followed by shortcuts to your most recently played games. Those are followed by your important settings. Connecting to WiFi, setting up your controllers and everything else happens here.

And that's it, basically. The new Shield TV setup is even simpler and cleaner than before, meaning that you'll never be more than a couple of swipes away from whatever you need. Newcomers to the Shield interface should pick it up in no time at all either, without the need to consult menus.

Now that the Shield TV runs Android Nougat, you get some really helpful bonus features courtesy of Google too. For instance, you can double-tap the home button to bring up a menu of your recently used apps, which is handy for flicking between two quickly. You also get picture-in-picture, so you can watch video while piddling about in other apps.

Speaking of apps, Android TV now supports over 1000 in total. You should find pretty much everything you need, be it media streamers, sports and news apps, music services for enjoying digital radio channels and so on.

The only real problem is that there's no easy way to browse all of the Google Play apps you already own, for quickly and easily downloading the ones you want onto the Shield TV. All you can see are the apps already installed, which means you need to individually search for any others. It's a major ballache if you're coming from another Android TV device, but thankfully only a temporary pain when you first get set up.

In our regular Shield TV use, the only other problem we encountered was the very occasional WiFi glitch. A couple of times, the Shield told us that our network had no internet, which required a bit of messing around in the settings to disconnect and reconnect. That did the job.

Read next: All you need to know about Android TV

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Controllers

This 2017 model of Shield TV improves on the bundled game controller in a couple of major ways.

For a start it’s now 20 percent smaller, so even more comfortable to wield during those all-evening game sessions. You get dual haptic feedback, plus those slightly awkward touch buttons have happily been replaced with physical buttons. The result is a more responsive experience.

You can now directly control your TV using the built-in IR blaster at the top of the controller, while that plastic casing also holds a mic, headphone jack and volume controls as before.

While the remote control was previously a separate accessory, Nvidia has decided smartly to include it in the box along with the game controller. This new, updated remote is slightly thicker than the first model, because the rechargeable batteries have been replaced with removable cells which should last a full year with regular use. That'll be a pain when the cells do need replacing, but in the meantime saves you from frequent charging.

As an added bonus, the old controllers from the original Shield TV are still supported by the new box, so you don’t need to throw away those old accessories if you have the first Shield streamer. And if you just want the new games controllers, you can buy those separately from the new 2017 Shield TV, for £60 a pop.

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Media streaming

Nvidia's Shield TV is fully futureproof thanks to its ability to stream 4K HDR video. If you have an Ultra HD telly that supports HDR, then you're in for a treat - supremely crisp, gorgeous-looking visuals that are as true to life as you could possibly hope for.

Read next: How to check if your home is ready for 4K video streaming

You get access to a strong range of streaming services too. The Shield TV 2017 comes with the likes of Amazon Video, Netflix and BBC iPlayer pre-installed, plus the rather lovely Plex which can stream content from your other devices. There's plenty more to check out on the Google Play store, including music streaming services if you want a bit of home disco action for parties.

And if you want to plug a USB key into the back of the Shield, to watch your home movie collection, that's simple enough too. This box supports pretty much any codecs going, with regular updates from Nvidia to keep it fully functional.

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Gaming with Android TV, Game Streaming and GeForce Now

We're pleased that Nvidia has chosen to amalgamate all of its separate gaming apps (GeForce Now, Game Stream and so on) into a single app now, called Nvidia Games. This keeps things tidy, while still giving you quick access to your recently played games. That's regardless of the platform they're on - Android TV, GeForce Now or Game Stream.

As well as the standard selection of Android TV titles, the Shield TV 2017 has its own catalogue of exclusive games. This includes classics like Portal, Half Life 2 and Doom 3, plus the likes of Pavilion and Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance. No matter what you're into, you're bound to find plenty of titles to keep you entertained. And of course, if you have a couple of controllers connected, you can enjoy local co-op or multiplayer action.

Read next: The best games you can play on the Nvidia Shield TV 2017

Own a decent PC with an Nvidia GeForce graphics card? Chances are you'll be able to stream your games to the Shield TV, to enjoy them on a big screen with the rest of the family. You can now enjoy 4K HDR visuals with your Game Stream titles too, which is great news if your TV is awesome but your monitor isn't quite as hot.

Nvidia has also boosted its GeForce Now streaming service, with Pascal supported servers. That means you can now stream games online with sharper graphics, as long as your home network is up to the task. Check out our guide to GeForce Now for more info.

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Google Assistant and smart home support

Tap the main Shield controller button and you'll call up the voice search, which can be used to scour the 'net for info, load up an app, search for a particular movie and plenty more besides.

Best of all, the Shield TV 2017's Google Assistant and SmartThings Hub support means you'll be able to interact directly with your smart home goodies, without having to fiddle with them individually on your phone. The Shield TV will even let you stream live video and recordings from your Nest security cameras, if you're particularly paranoid about someone creeping up on your house when you're all alone.

In other words, the Shield TV doubles as an Amazon Echo style home hub, with full voice controls and search. Later in the year we'll even see the launch of the Nvidia Shield Spot, which can be placed anywhere in the home for expanding the reach of the assistant - just like Amazon's Echo Dot.

Nvidia Shield TV 2017 Review: Verdict

Gamers and TV lovers, your new temple of worship has arrived.

The Nvidia Shield TV is an incredibly versatile home entertainment machine that should appease couch potatoes, gamers, tech addicts, music lovers and pretty much everyone who has a heart beat. Given the choice between the Shield, a Playstation or an Xbox, we'd choose this funky black box every time.

You can buy the new Nvidia Shield TV 2017 right now in the UK for £189.

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